Thursday, June 5, 2014

Crossbones: Slow Start but Possibilities

Hey, I like erudite pirate stories.   So I took a look at Crossbones, which debuted on NBC last Friday.   It seems to have a lot in common with Black Sails on Starz, except no nudity, no frank language - casualties of being on a broadcast network, unconstitutionally regulated by the FCC - and not much sex, either, explicit or otherwise.   Still, those absences are not necessarily fatal to a TV series, and indeed network series still garner millions of viewers without those cable accoutrements.

But Crossbones directly stole a major part of the Black Sails plot - the ingenious idea to memorize vital information, after destroying its printed source, to make the memorizer's life safe from the dangerous crew seeking said information.   Now, I know there's been theft of ideas going in Hollywood since the days of D. W. Griffith, so, for all I know, the Crossbones writers had this idea first.  But in terms of the presentations of the two stories on television, Black Sails was definitely there first.

Crossbones does have a few things going for it, though.  The dialogue is indeed as intelligent as the talk on Black Sails, and both are still rarities on television.  John Malkovich is a great actor, and his performance as Blackbeard  on Crossbones is good to see.   Richard Coyle as Tom Lowe - apparently a doctor as well as an operative for the British crown with a license to kill - is also pretty good.   And Claire Foy's Kate Balfour has some potential, too - as a romantic interest of Lowe, even though she's married, and as an intriguing character with unclear and complex loyalties in her own right.

There's also a pretty good twist at the end, as Lowe seeks to complete his mission to kill Blackbeard, which we know cannot succeed, since eliminating Malkovich from the show at the beginning would be insane.   But the swift, surprising developments at the end show that Crossbones has the capacity to engage our interest, and mine is at least engaged enough to watch the next episode.

more ancient than Crossbones, and even more erudite
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